What you need to know
In one of its first meetings ever, the Community Standards Review Committee, or CSRC, which was created last year to review books flagged by community members as potentially inappropriate, voted for the guidelines in an effort to create specificity on what its role will be going forward.
The committee will take a focus on books that are currently in Helen Hall Library’s ages 0-11 section. They will have the ability to review books from that section and choose if they should be moved to a different one in the library, officials said at the meeting.
However, the decision only came after the board held much discussion about what its intended role was and questions about whether or not it could set parameters based on age.
Advice given by the city’s attorney at the meeting questioned whether they could do that, or if it opened the door for City Council to reject such a guideline.
“In my opinion, [City Council] did a very poor job drafting this whole thing,” CSRC Chair Todd Kinsey said at the meeting.
How we got here
In February last year, League City City Council approved the creation of the committee, which was created with the ability to review books flagged by the community as potentially inappropriate. The committee could then remove the books for a certain collection, reclassify them or choose to do nothing.
However, the committee’s creation was met with pushback from the public, as well as some City Council members. Those opposed said it was a violation of the First Amendment, with some saying the committee was an attempt to remove books that were LGBTQ+-focused.
That trend continued at the Jan. 31 meeting, as several members of the public, including City Council candidate Ange Mertens, spoke against the committee, calling it a government overreach.
League City resident Jeff Murello argued that the books purchased by the library were “worth their weight,” as the library wouldn’t have purchased them otherwise.
“I would say it’s dishonest and disingenuous for this committee to deny that artistic or that political value, just because you don’t agree with some of the contents of the book,” Murello said.
Another item on the committee’s agenda for Jan. 31 was to review eight books that were tagged by a resident as inappropriate.
However, after adopting the age guidelines, it was found that the library did not have physical copies of two of those books, and five others were not in the ages 0-11 section of the library.
As a result, the committee set a hearing date for one of the books, “Grandad’s Pride,” which the committee will review Feb. 23.